Imagining a New Path

© Matthew Word Bain

now, then, from across the street
what a different way of seeing
this same stretch of wall
with the protruding painted bricks
and the ambiguous commercial status
framed by one well lit municipal planting
and the cheerful precautionary cylinders
decorating the cables which stabilize
the telephone pole at center stage

an awkward view at best
one in which the intentions
of too many disparate parties
commingle uncomfortably
unable to present any
sort of coherent aesthetic

Christopher Alexander, et al
in their A Pattern Language
were proponents of
spending time
in a place
getting to know
the way the elements
moved through a location
before beginning to consider
what should be built there
let alone how it should
look or function

aesthetics, I imagine
must have played a role
in their thinking, although
my sense is that role was
secondary to function
but I do not know

it can be difficult
to tease the two apart
beauty is far more potent
than we are taught to believe

imagine here a broader sidewalk
an absence of utility hardware
and perhaps more than
just a few trees
planted amidst bricks
how different the feeling
of walking down a grassy path
with room to spare for people passing
without having to yield the right of way
to the convenience of the power company…
and room for taller trees and the shade
they provide as they shield eyes
from the glare of the sun

there are other ways
of doing things
than those
we have learned
other ways of seeing
and other ways of being

everything is in relationship
and each minute change
generates movement
ripples traveling
farther than
we may be able
to glean at first blush